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 The Earlier Pittsfield Township Historical Committee: A Tribute

Note: The current Pittsfield Township Historical Society was founded in 1998. However, an earlier committee was formed to undertake the work typical of such an organization. That committee, formed in the late 1970s, performed important functions -- gathering and preserving documents and preparing some written text on the early history of Pittsfield Township. We are indebted to the earlier committee and honor their contributions to our common objectives. This article from the Ann Arbor News is about that earlier committee. This is their history.

A Grasp at a Fleeting Past

by Jim Kane, Staff Reporter, Ann Arbor News

History, like time, is fleeting.

So Pittsfield Township’s recently formed historical committee is trying to capture and preserve some of the township’s history.

Since February, the six-member committee has been collecting dusty, worn documents such as maps and various official township records, many of which date back 100 years or more.

The group consists of Ray Ticknor, acting chairman, Don Hagen, Carol Aldrich (wife of Township Trustee James Aldrich), Rick Czopp, township administrative assistant and zoning inspector, and George and Mary Campbell.

Czopp said the idea to keep a historical record of the township was born several months ago while a few township residents were discussing the community.

“Since the township is growing so fast, we felt now was the time to start gathering information,” Czopp explained.

"If we don’t do something now, people won’t know we had old buildings and old records from years ago," says Ticknor, whose family was one of the township’s first settlers. His grandfather Frank C. Ticknor was supervisor from 1924-1926 and also served as county treasurer.

The Ticknor family first came to Washtenaw County in 1835. Raymond Ticknor’s great, great grandfather, Heman, came to Michigan in the mid 1830’s from Salisbury, Conn. His brother Benajah arrived in the county in 1845. It was about this time that a log cabin was built by Heman for Benajah, a navy surgeon.

The Ticknor family was active in politics in the 1800s. Heman was supervisor in 1837, 1838. 1842. 1843 and 1844. Later, he also served as township treasurer and justice-of-the-peace.

In 1881, the farm was purchased by William Campbell. The farm was bought by the City of Ann Arbor in 1873 as a historic site and annexed to the city in 1974. the property and house is still referred to as the Ticknor-Campbell farm.

Things started rolling during a meeting held last February attended by 50 older township residents who brought with them a wealth of information. The meeting itself was historical since the township’s last five supervisors, going back 52 years ago, all got together for the first time.

They are Robert A. Lillie, supervisor since 1969. Melvin F. Hartman, 1964-l969; Rudolph Schmerberg, 1961-1963; and Arthur Heininger, 1927-1938. Morgan also served as township clerk and treasurer.

Although most of the items have been ferreted out of the corners of old township file cabinets, some have been donated by interested township residents while copies of old township maps ere obtained from the Michigan Historical Collections at the Bentley Library.

Among the memorabilia collected so far are township board minutes from 1850 to 1873, assessment rolls from 1839 and 1840, 1881 treasurer’s book, minutes from a school inspector’s meeting from 1837-1838, maps dating back to 1856 and a treasurer’s receipt book dating back to 1881.

The oldest document to turn up so far dates back to 1827. It is a copy of the patent for a land grant for 160 acres purchased by William Geddes for his farm at Morgan and Platt Roads. The document is signed by the sixth president of the United States, John Quincy Adams.

Another item is an old, wooden ballot box, age unknown.

Through their collecting and searching, it has been learned that the township had a post office in 1842. The postmaster was John Hoy. The post office was located in a small hamlet called Pittsfield Junction then, now the site of the Penn-Central Railroad Crossing at Payeur Road.

However, according to the Washtenaw County History Book, the township had a post office back in 1834. It was soon discontinued and another one was located near the corner of Packard and Carpenter Roads. The post office then later moved to near Michigan Avenue and State Roads, where John Hoy presided as postmaster. He also served as township clerk from 1836-43.

The township was officially organized as the town of Pitt in 1834 under the act of the Territorial Council. The first town meeting was in April, 1834. a year later, the name was changed to Pittsfield. That was two years before Michigan joined the union in 1837.

Pittsfield Township has the distinction of having the first school in Washtenaw County being built there. The log structure was built in 1825 on Millet Creek on what is now the corner of Packard and Platt Roads.

Eventually, the committee would like to evolve into a historical society or commission.

“Right now, we’re just playing it by ear and trying to get as much information on the township as possible,” Czopp said.

On Sunday, June 24, the committee will hold an open house at the township hall from 1 to 4 p.m. Interested people are encouraged to bring their old documents, ideas or suggestions about the history of Pittsfield Township.

Source: Ann Arbor News, 13 June 1979. Reprinted here with permission of the newspaper.

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